Fish Have No Feet
Keflavik: a town that has been called the darkest place in Iceland, surrounded by black lava fields, hemmed in by a sea that may not be fished. Its livelihood depends entirely on a U.S. military base, a conduit for American influences that shaped Icelandic culture and ethics from the 1950s to the dawning of the new millennium.
It is to Keflavik that Ari – a writer and publisher – returns from Copenhagen at the behest of his dying father, two years after walking out on his wife and children. He is beset by memories of his youth, spent or misspent listening to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, fraternising with American servicemen – who are regarded by the locals with a mixture of admiration and contempt – and discovering girls. There is one girl in particular he could never forget – her fate has stayed with him all his life.
Fish Have No Feet is at once the story of a singular family and an epic of Icelandic history and culture. It offers an unique insight into modern Iceland, and the ways in which it has been shaped by outside influences. A sparkling novel of love, pain, loss and lifelong desire that marries the poetic, elemental style of Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels and The Heart of Man to a modern frame of reference and sensibility.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Fish Have No Feet is the coming-of-age story of both protagonist Ari and the Icelandic nation as a whole, as exemplified by the claustrophobic and weather-beaten fishing town of Keflavik. Stefánsson has a masterful command of language, and the novel’s lyrical prose calls to mind the powers of the sea, from the stark and magnificent depths to the delicate beauty of spume on the waves.